The Limbo of Coronavirus. Why it is so hard to be creative
Let me begin with a question. What stage of the Coronavirus lockdown are you in? Or should I say “time zone”?
As you know, here in the UK the official lockdown started a week ago, in France a little longer than two weeks ago, in Italy three weeks ago. Since a big, large chunk of my connections, my heart, my identity , my emotional world is in Italy, I have been in lockdown for nearly three weeks (emotionally and practically, too).
That seems to have not been unusual. From a quick survey, I have discovered that most Europeans in London have been following the guidelines from their country of origin. One of the challenges for many has been to make sense of contradictory messages coming from the different realities. While Italy was forbidding citizens to go out, UK was still only recommending to wash hands and at the same time suggesting we should prepare ourselves to lose loved ones before their time.
Writing this post has been strenuous for me. Never had I experienced such a lack of energy, inspiration and motivation to write before. My thinking process feels a bit basic and rusty. And this is an annoying paradox and a counterintuitive phenomenon. With all this time stuck indoors, why not to make the most of it and attend to those long term projects? If not now, when?
I am stumbling across many posts on social media and online articles reinforcing this idea - the pressure actually- to be creative: make the difference, make something new, make something for later, which implies forecasting what the world will be like “AFTER”, “ON THE OTHER SIDE”, “ONCE THIS IS ALL OVER”, “BACK TO NORMAL”.
Well, this seems to be a problem. As things stand, we have no clear idea when our lives will resume back to normal, what exactly will be "normal" again and what the other side will look like .
The last month has brought a level of uncertainty frankly unimaginable to the vast majority of human beings. Covid19 has been compared to wars, invisible enemies, tsunamis, earthquakes, asteroids. Personally, I admit that in my life I have imagined and very marginally lived one of these scenarios (earthquake) , but never had my mind remotely depicted a cruel virus that would kill nearly 11,000 fellow Italians in one month, shattering the world of so many families and suddenly making a groceries run feel like a dangerous mission and the idea of traveling a mere utopia.
I am not going to say “everything will be fine”, “Andrà tutto bene”, the popular hashtag and writing on rainbow drawings that went viral in Italy.
For many, nothing will be the same and nothing will be fine for a while. People are losing their relatives without even being given the chance to say goodbye , innumerable workers on the frontline are risking their health and life to protect us and to allow us to be safe at home, many have lost or will lose their jobs.
What I do believe is that humanity as a collective will get through this. Science , technology and solidarity will bring us to "the other side" at some point.
What I truly believe in : we ADAPT. As specie- and this is what I mean by “we” - we adapt to new realities, it is in our history and in our DNA. We will rise again. But at this stage we are in the core of this process, ADAPTING, and it is exhausting.
Most of our endeavours and our drives are focused on adapting and constantly adjusting.
So if you feel you are not able to do much right now, not feeling creative or performing , please do not be harsh on yourself. You have just unexpectedly and harshly landed in a limbo.
The metaphors popping in to my mind are a few. Namely, being on a long haul flight, stuck for many many hours on a plane, not knowing how long the journey is going to last. Theoretically there is a lot of time and many possible activities available: reading, watching movies, working, sleeping. Will masterpieces be created on a flight? I am not too sure.
Another metaphor (please take this one with a pinch of salt, I am not really comparing being safe in your own home to the trauma of being in jail) :
Will a prisoner be creative in his first days in prison? Probably, he will have to first deal with anger, disappointment, disbelief, powerlessness, fear, apathy, lethargy. After settling in the new reality, if the circumstances will allow it, there will be more chances for him to focus on his development despite the adverse context he finds himself in.
Once the adaptation will have had the chance to take place and the stress levels will have adjusted, creativity will blossom as the mind will be a more fertile ground.
In the meanwhile.. Be patient. Be kind. And stay safe.